Thursday, January 16, 2014

On success and satisfaction...

So I haven't blogged in a while. It happens. I got into writing a story that I love. And I didn't feel like writing anything else. It's been a while since I've been so in love with something I've written. It's a nice feeling, remembering why I like to do this so much in the first place.

The other thing is that I have this weird health thing going on. Which is a big "I don't know" right now. Not always the most fun place to be with regards to health. But for all that it is, it has been good for my perspective.


Every time I seem to have lost my way, this thing gets placed in front of me to remind me how blessed and lucky I am. I wonder if the world works that way. Like you're stumbling through the woods, and the universe dumps a giant boulder in your path, and where you are becomes completely clear.

Sometimes this boulder comes in the form of people. My writer friends, the Fourteenery, my family, my community, my Sunday school kids, the survivors who have reached out to me, all of them in one way or another have been a boulder in my path over the past year, one I am incredibly grateful for.

Sometimes the boulder comes in the form of other things.

I have never made a secret of how much I love my day job. Getting to help authors, getting to read and edit all day, this is pretty perfect and magical, to be honest. And Samhain Publishing is a really good publisher to work for.

But it is a bit of a strange thing working on both sides of the desk because I see things that other people don't. I am grateful for this, and yet it is occasionally difficult wearing two different hats. Because success in other people makes me want to change what I do in order to ensure more success in myself. (I know that you will be SHOCKED to hear this but some of the sexy books I edit have sold more copies than my rape book. I know, it's baffling:))

That's a tricky word: success. Nebulous and ultimately unattainable until you decide how you're going to define it and stick to that.

Three months ago, I defined success as being able to fund a rape survivor testimonial writing workshop. I still define it that way, but now the possibility of MORE has been put in front of me. The idea that if I work hard enough, if my book does well enough, I could fund two of these workshops. Or even three. Or four. You see?

And I imagine it's this way for anyone, however you define success. You get two starred reviews, you want three. You sell 10,000 copies of your book, you want to sell 20,000. There's always more and it is hard not to want that.

But then the boulder comes and you gain some perspective and MORE doesn't seem like such a big deal anymore. Success gets redefined. I think that mostly our lives are comprised of stumbling through the woods in increasing states of self-absorption until the boulder drops and we realign, start over, and remember what it is that makes us really happy.

If what you do doesn't make you happy in its own right, you should probably stop doing that. If you need success that is beyond your control in order to keep going then you are maybe not doing the thing you're meant to be doing. I'm not saying we all have to be happy all the time, because frankly that's crap, but nor do I think the path should feel like chores and obligations. Especially with regards to this writer world. There's just too many other things to be done, too many other people who could use your help.

I don't know. I could be wrong here. Maybe some people need the ambition of MORE. It could be a great motivator. But to me, what is the actual point of the climb if all I'm doing is looking up?


Jessie Humphries said...

Great advice. It takes a bit of perspective to figure this all out. I hope all your health stuff works out.

Jolene Perry said...

I love this.

I read a quote the other day that said something like - are we grateful for the trials we DON'T have.

This is a total random side note, but when i was throwing up a million times a day every day while pregnant, I was like - I'm never going to go a day where I don't throw up, where I'm not grateful for that day, but things shift...

My goal, originally, was to find someone who wanted to publish my book. That happened for me pretty quickly, but WOW did that one goal change fast. Now my goal is to just keep moving forward and enjoy the journey. HOPEFULLY I can stay on this one for a little longer.

Well said.
As always.

M.J. Fifield said...

I love the feeling of being in love with something you're writing.

And I really appreciate your thoughts on perspective and success. I don't think you're wrong.

I hope the weird health thing works out for you.

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